$78.5 Million Medical Malpractice Verdict for Birth Injury

Victoria Upsey was 36 weeks pregnant when she arrived at Pottstown Memorial Medical Center concerned and complaining of the pain and bleeding that are often signs of a detached placenta. She expected competent medical care for herself and her baby. Instead, she received the shocking and erroneous news that her baby was dead. Despite her protests, doctors denied her a surgical delivery, insisting the baby had died.

During a normal pregnancy, the placenta functions as a conduit from the mother’s body to feed and remove waste from the unborn baby. According to the experts at the Mayo Clinic, a detached placenta will prevent the baby from receiving oxygen that is essential to his or her wellbeing. The mother can also be at risk of heavy bleeding when the placenta detaches. A delivery by cesarean section is usually the safest option, promoting the best outcome for mother and baby.

A Mother’s Nightmare

Immediately after Ms. Upsey was admitted to the hospital, fetal monitoring did not give clear information about the baby’s condition. For this reason, the obstetrician who examined her used ultrasound equipment instead. Unfortunately, the ultrasound machine was outdated and improperly maintained. According to records, the machine had not been serviced in 10 years, even though annual maintenance was required.

Unable to obtain a clear image of the fetal heartbeat, the obstetrician made a terrible judgment call. He declared the baby dead. To make matters worse, the hospital did not have an ultrasound technician scheduled to work the day Ms. Upsey was admitted. She had to wait for a technician to arrive at the hospital from home. The technician determined the doctor’s reading of the ultrasound data was incorrect and that the baby was indeed still alive.

Tragically, during the 81 minutes that elapsed since doctors refused the mother a cesarean procedure, the child suffered profound brain damage. An emergency cesarean section delivered the child alive, but severely and permanently developmentally disabled. Had the doctor erred on the side of caution, the child might have been delivered in healthy condition.

Heartbreaking Consequences of Medical Negligence

The child is now three years old and a victim of severe spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, in need of life-long custodial and medical care. She will never lead a normal life because of the lengthy delay doctors caused in declaring her deceased.

Ms. Upsey sued the hospital because of the improperly maintained and outdated equipment and the lack of trained personnel on site. A Philadelphia jury awarded mother and child a record $78.5 million verdict in early May, 2012, covering future medical care, loss of earning potential, pain and suffering for the child, and emotional distress for the mother.

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The birth of a baby should be a joyful time. If the action or inaction of medical personnel or facilities turned that joy into despair by injuring you or your baby, we may be able to help. Contact one of our compassionate advocates to discuss compensation for birth injuries, including provisions for care of your precious child after you are no longer able to be there. The time to file is limited by the law, so make the call today.

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